Tag Archive | perfectionism

Perfection Schmerfection

Last month, I had the pleasure and honor of co-leading a women’s retreat, with the theme based the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, PhD. What a powerfully moving and insightful experience for all who participated!

In reading and preparing the materials for the retreat, I had many opportunities to revisit my own perfectionist issue. Such a delightful activity to spend time on (not), especially since this issue already presents itself quite frequently. Half of my preparation began with, “God, You are funny, aren’t You?”

Yet, as a therapist, I tell my clients so often, “The only way to the other side is to walk through it”; and I am no different in striving to free myself from old thought patterns. So I embraced the process and here’s what I was reminded:

Nobody cares if I do it right or wrong. I just need to do it. And “it” can mean anything from speaking from my authentic Self, playing a game, singing a song, listening, supporting, or being supported.

“Perfection” is a made up thing in my head. What I think is “perfect” may be stodgy to someone else—and maybe to that person I am aiming to please in a given moment. There is no such thing as perfect. It is a black and white thinking fallacy in a world made up of beautiful shades of grey.

The question to ask is “Am I doing what feels right to me?” I shared this in the small group I led. This is the measuring stick to replace the perfectionist concept. Am I in tune with myself? Am I okay with me right now? That is what will bring the greatest peace of mind.

The more I stuck with these understandings as the retreat process unfolded, the more space Spirit had to move in and through the materials, my co-leaders, and every woman participating. We danced together in love, joy, and gratitude throughout the weekend. We were in the flow of the best kind of perfection—hearts open to our Higher Selves.

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Don’t Judge. Ask, “What Is Mine to Do?”

Over the years of practicing therapy, as well as doing my own inner work, I have noticed an overlooked problem about judging others: It causes us to keep ourselves in a box.

We have all heard reasons for not to judging others: “Judge not, or you will be judged.” “Judging keeps you in negative thinking.” “Judging is bad karma.” And we certainly know that judging others keeps them in a box.

Overlooked are the limitations we put on ourselves when we judge others. When we think toward someone, “You’re doing it wrong,” or some such variation, we are also setting a guideline for ourselves.

Returning to a personal story I shared in my previous post, before our son was born, I had many judgments of doctors, hospitals, and of all of western medicine’s views on childbirth. When my inner guidance came that I would need to have his birth in a hospital rather than at home as we did with our first child, I felt afraid. “Something terrible must be coming”, I thought to myself, “or why would God ever want me to do such a horrible thing as to have a baby in a hospital?”  I came face to face with the wall of judgments I had built around the medical field.

After nearly 18 months of processing the layers of these judgments (that caused all the fear I was holding), I was able to get to the bottom line: The only thing that mattered was the safety of this soul coming into this world. When that was my goal, I was completely open to whatever way that had to happen.

After our son was born, easily and healthily in the cocoon of the hospital, I could not return to my old way of thinking. I had a new perspective on childbirth: The important thing is safety and the comfort of the one giving birth. Whatever that looks like to the individual is the right and perfect way to do it! Not only did I let every mother on the planet out of a tight and rigid box, I let myself out as well and now can apply this lesson to other judgments I erroneously hold.

We don’t always know what the perfect thing is for someone else, but we can know what is right for ourselves–and sometimes that means doing something we would think someone else shouldn’t be doing!

When you catch yourself having an opinion about another person or their actions, ask yourself, “How is this helpful to this person? Am I putting myself in a box by this thought?” We can free ourselves and others by checking our judgments, and leaving our options open as to what will be the right thing to do in a given situation. This reminds me of a poem my husband has shared with me, written by a friend of his:

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Caged bird,
Fly free!
Cage, bird, liberator–
I am all three!

Think about it, and free yourself!

Detach and Cooperate

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Detachment is a difficult thing to do.

I’m talking about spiritual detachment: Being “in the world, but not of the world”. This is different from being aloof or disengaged from people or situations in our lives.

Picture a core of light, with strings moving out from that core, attaching themselves to all sorts of things: One string attached to our partner. Another attached to our children. Another attached to our job. Another to money. And others to friends, resentments, good things, difficult things, and on and on!

And all these strings are using our core energy, the energy we came in with to support us through everything. We have to work very hard to keep these attachments going. They have become part of our personality’s identity, and can get in the way of our seeing clearly. How can we make a good decision about our job if we are afraid of letting it go, even if it is for something better? How can we help our loved ones wisely when we are attached to them, or to the outcome of their situation?

Our awakening is about letting go of our attachments, and allowing those strings to connect to our inner soul force, soul energy. Not all at once. Not blindly. Slowly, wisely, and with conscious intention. Day by day, we release our limited ideas of what can be, to be aware of the grander scheme that we are usually not aware of.

When my husband and I were getting ready to have a second child, I was looking into midwives to assist the delivery. Our first child was born at home, and I wanted a similar experience. I also had MANY faulty judgments about hospitals, doctors and childbirth–none of them positive or worthy of repeating here.

My intuitive guidance, as I looked for midwives the second time, was, “You won’t have this child at home.” I felt afraid. Why not? My automatic assumption was that there might be something wrong with the birth, the child, or me. I tried to force the issue, but the guidance was too strong, and I backed off. I found a midwife, but one who worked with a doctor and delivered in a nearby hospital.

I started before I was even pregnant releasing my attachment to homebirth, which included releasing the fears about hospitals and doctors. Every time I would go in for a check-up, I would have another round of fears come up to be examined and released. For an entire year–before I was even pregnant!–I worked on this detachment.

By the time I went into the hospital to deliver, I was free of my fears and could embrace the experience! My spiritual teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, said to me, “Go into that hospital as if you were walking into God’s hands.” I did, and had no resistance to any of the medical personnel who helped me. Everything went smoothly because I got out of the way, released my fears and attachments to how the process was going to look, and trusted. I detached my soul energy from fears, and reattached that energy into my Divine Self that knew what it was doing.

I released myself and my experience from fear and false judgments, and plugged into Soul force. There is no outer picture that is the “perfect” scenario. We have to be open to what is the highest good for our souls—and all souls involved—in the moment, and that might just be very different than our human picture of what “should” be! Cooperation is perfection.

Knowing your highest good in the moment comes through gently detaching from lesser ideas each day, and plugging into your Soul that knows!